One day away from the start of their first-round series with the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins are rightfully focused on what’s ahead of them here in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But when the dust settles on their postseason run, there’s no doubt that some major decisions are looming over the franchise.
Particularly in net, as veteran goaltender Tuukka Rask is beginning his 10th postseason run (and eighth as a starter) with Boston without a deal in place for 2021-22. And that uncertain future regarding Boston’s 34-year-old ace was one of many brought up during Bruins president Cam Neely’s Friday morning conversation with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich.
“Don’s talked to his agent,” Neely told the guys when asked if there’s been any preliminary talks with Rask. “We’ve kind of just left it alone a little bit as the season went. Tuukka has always said this is the only place he wants to play. We do have some decisions to make in the offseason and Tuukka’s one of them.”
The franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender, Rask has battled a back injury since early March, and has repeatedly stated that he’s 100 percent. All while 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman has burst on the scene with a league-best .945 save percentage through his first 10 starts, which was enough to bump Jaroslav Halak out of a job to begin the 2021 postseason.
“The way [Swayman]’s played certainly has opened our eyes,” Neely admitted. “Maybe it’s fast-forwarded [Swayman’s timeline] a little bit more than we anticipated. He came in and certainly stepped up when we needed him and played extremely, extremely well for a young goaltender in the National Hockey League.
“The future is bright for us in the goaltending department.”
Even so, the Bruins are not going to make any decisions without seeing where Rask, who went on a run to the Stanley Cup Final the last time he entered the playoffs without a deal for the following year, is at following the conclusion of the B’s run.
“We’re gonna sit down with Tuukka and see where his head is at as far as how he’s feeling physically and what he may need to do this offseason and we’ll take it from there,” Neely said. “We have no problem tabling this until the offseason.”
Listen below to hear Neely’s complete interview with the guys, and listen to Toucher & Rich, mornings 6 to 10 a.m.